Utilities are Key Partners in Connecting Unserved Americans: UTC’s Riggs
Electric utilities empower broadband deployment and are ready and willing to serve if the need arises, UTC President and CEO Sheryl Riggs told a national audience last week.
With the coronavirus still raging across the country, forcing millions of workers and students home, more policymakers see electric utilities as key partners in bridging the digital divide, and more utilities are expressing an interest in doing so, she said.
Noting that utilities have already invested in sophisticated communications networks, Ms. Riggs said utilities are able to leverage their existing systems to provide different levels of broadband support.
“Because of these investments in fiber and other communications infrastructure, hundreds of utilities of all kinds are also leveraging these investments to provide broadband services to unserved and underserved communities,” Ms. Riggs said. “Numerous electric cooperative utilities have successfully participated in federal auction opportunities such as the Federal Communications Commission’s Connect America Fund II and others are awaiting the results from this year’s $20.4 Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction as well.”
Ms. Riggs spoke at the Broadband Communities Virtual Summit Event last week. She discussed the emerging trends in the utility broadband area, including investor-owned utilities providing middle-mile services in unserved and underserved areas. She also highlighted opportunities for utilities to work together on broadband projects, such as is the case in Virginia, where Dominion Energy Virginia has reached a partnership to work with Prince George Electric Cooperative on broadband issues.
She urged the general public to become more aware of broadband options particularly in unserved and underserved areas. Electric utilities could be able to provide service if enough support exists, she said.
“Reach out to your local utility, become aware,” she said. “That’s what we’re trying to do, raise awareness.”
Ms. Riggs’ presentation is archived here: https://bbcsummit.vfairs.com/en/
Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.